Tag: Jazz

Bridging Cultural Gaps: Senior Sam Genualdi will travel the globe in search of musical collaborations as Watson Fellow

Music has always been a part of Sam Genualdi’s DNA.

Sam Genualdi ’17

He grew up as a serial instrumentalist, working his way through a litany of recommendations from his parents — violin, piano, percussion, double bass — but it wasn’t until he taught himself to play the guitar at the age of 15 that he found his sweet spot.

“When I picked up the guitar, it felt like something on my terms,” said Genualdi, a senior at Lawrence University from Evanston, Ill. “I felt like I was rebelling against my parents through the electric guitar.”

As his musical interests evolved, he discovered collaborating with other musicians was vital to his creative process. Later this year, Genualdi will embark on a year-long musical “binge” to feed his creative hunger that will take him around the world to engage in collaborations with musicians he’s never met.

Genualdi, a student-designed contemporary improvisation major at Lawrence, has been named one of 40 national recipients of a $30,000 Watson Fellowship for a wanderjahr of independent travel and exploration. Beginning in August, Genualdi will spend 12 months visiting Scotland, Peru, Indonesia, India and Japan.

“I plan to spend my Watson year in five countries steeped in unfamiliar musical traditions,” said Genualdi, Lawrence’s 72nd Watson Fellow since the program’s inception in 1969. “Music can be a powerful tool to bridge cultural gaps. I hope to co-create music that makes this evident. I want to engage in musical collaborations that push against the boundaries of existing genres.

“I have always thrived on collaboration,” added Genualdi, who has had plenty of opportunities as a member of numerous groups and ensembles at Lawrence, including the small jazz combos, the improvisation group IGLU, Gamelan Cahaya Asri and the Sambistas Brazilian drumming group, among others. “While I’ve done a fair amount of solitary work as a musician, the experiences that most excite me are those that involve interacting with other people.”

At each of his global destinations, Genualdi plans to meet musicians he hopes to work with by attending concerts and jam sessions. He will approach local musicians as a student to develop relationships and more effectively absorb the culture.

Sam is infinitely curious about sonic possibilities and how improvisation and collaboration can create
musical worlds yet unimagined.”

— Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music

“Taking lessons will give me the opportunity to interact with these musicians on a personal level, accumulate skills and expand my musical vocabulary,” said Genuldi. “I may learn a new instrument to gain perspective, but mainly I intend to communicate musically through my primary voice, the guitar.”

In Scotland, Genualdi will focus on the country’s rich history of stringed instruments, including guitar. In Peru, he will work with within Afro-Peruvian music traditions which combine African, European and native influences.

“Afro-Peruvian music along with the salsa and flamenco traditions prevalent in Lima involve unique forms of improvisation,” said Genualdi. “My background in jazz will help me find common repertoire to play with locals because of the relatively recent surge in the fusion of jazz and local traditions.”

January will find Genualdi in Bali where he looks to expand his experience with Indonesian music, which has been limited to his work with Gamelan Cahaya Asr. The following three months will take him to India, where traditions of improvisation in Hindustani music run deep. Much of his time there will focus on working with several highly regarded sitarists.

The final three months of his travels will be spent in Tokyo’s vibrant musical community with its improvised and experimental music scene. Genualdi calls the enthusiasm in Japan for fringe musical projects “inspiring.”

When it comes to instruments, the guitar serves as Sam Genualdi’s “voice” of choice.

Brian Pertl, dean of the conservatory of music and Lawrence’s campus liaison to the Watson Foundation, calls Genualdi “an explorer of sound.”

“Sam is infinitely curious about sonic possibilities and how improvisation and collaboration can create musical worlds yet unimagined,” said Pertl, himself a Watson Fellow in 1986 as a Lawrence senior. “He has been pushing the boundaries of improvisation during his time at Lawrence and now will have an opportunity to explore his passion across the globe. I can’t wait to see what new musical concoctions will emerge from his grand adventure.”

Genualdi says the Watson experience will deepen his relationship to music and profoundly affect every aspect of his life moving forward.

“The musical experiences I’ll have in each country is sure to be different, but each will help   bring into focus a larger picture of the human experience. Music is an important part of lives across the globe and I am intensely inspired by discovering these connections.”

Genualdi was selected for the Watson Fellowship from among 149 finalists nominated by 40 leading liberal arts colleges. This year’s 49th class of Watson Fellows hail from 21 states and six countries and will collectively visit 67 countries.

More than 2,700 students have been awarded Watson Fellowships, providing opportunities to test their aspirations, abilities and perseverance through a personal project that is cultivated on an international scale. Watson Fellows have gone on to become international leaders in their fields including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, MacArthur grant recipients, Pulitzer Prize winners, diplomats, artists, lawyers, doctors, faculty, journalists, and many renowned researchers and innovators.

The fellowship was established by the children of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp., and his wife, Jeannette, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence welcomes Gerald Clayton Trio with guest artist Dayna Stephens for Jazz Series concert

Virtuoso jazz pianist Gerald Clayton brings his hard-swinging, melodic style along with an impressive pedigree to the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Friday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. for the third concert of Lawrence University’s 2016-17 Jazz Series.

Tickets for the Gerald Clayton Trio and special guest Dayna Stephens, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors, $18-20 for students are available online through the Lawrence Box Office or by calling 920-832-6749.

One of the leaders of the new generation of young jazz musicians, Gerald Clayton learned his craft playing with his legendary father, composer, arranger, conductor bassist extraordinaire John Clayton, and his uncle Jeff Clayton, noted alto saxophonist and multi-reed instrumentalist, in the Clayton Brothers combo.

Beyond the family influences, Gerald has been a much in-demand sideman, playing and recording with the likes of Diana Krall, Ambrose Akinmusire, Roy Hargrove and Terry Lyne Carrington. National Public Radio called Clayton “a warm and graceful player, with plenty of personal nuance” while DownBeat magazine has hailed him for his “nuanced touch, precise articulation and the way he constructs a narrative for his solos.”

A four-time Grammy Award nominee, Gerald formed his own trio in 2008 with drummer Justin Brown and bassist Joe Sanders.

The trio will be joined for the Lawrence concert by tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens, a former student of trumpeter Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.

Jose Encarnación, director of the jazz studies program at Lawrence, calls Gerald Clayton “one of my favorite voices in improvised music.”

“Gerald’s musical stories are always honest, fresh and natural. He is the kind of artist that is always exploring and innovating,” said Encarnación. “It will be an honor to have him perform as part of our Jazz Series.”

Clayton’s discography includes his 2010 debut, “Two Shades,” for which he earned a Grammy Award nomination for best improvised jazz solo for his arrangement of Cole Porter’s “All of You.” His most recent releases 2012’s “Bond: The Paris Sessions” and 2013’s “Life Forum” both earned Clayton Grammy Award nominations for best jazz instrumental album.

The Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet closes Lawrence’s Jazz Series on May 13.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence Jazz Series welcomes guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel

Trailblazing guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and his New Quartet band close out Lawrence University’s 2015-16 Jazz Series Friday, May 13 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets, at $25/$30 for adults, $20/$25 for seniors and $18/$20 for students are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

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Kurt Rosenwinkel

During his 25-year career, Rosenwinkel, who lives in Berlin, Germany, has evolved the language of jazz in a way few other guitarists have since his arrival on the scene. He won the 1995 Composer’s Award from the National Endowment for the Arts and since has released 10 studio albums.

He also has been featured on more than 75 other albums, including hip-hop veteran Q-Tip’s “Renaissance” project. His extensive list of collaborations includes such dynamic peers as Brad Mehldau, Brian Blade, Joshua Redman and Chris Potter as well as jazz elders Joe Henderson, Paul Motian and Gary Burton.

“Kurt is both unique and very steeped in bebop tradition,” said Steve Peplin, who teaches jazz guitar at Lawrence. “His earlier work really shows how deeply rooted he is in the language of jazz. His compositions, on the other hand, are very modern, often informed by the new augmented-scale thing happening around the globe, but much more deep than just another harmonic concept Kurt reminds me of Lennie Tristano in the way he synthesizes the old and the new.

“His emphasis on tone and a light touch, combined with singing his lines in unison with his guitar creates a ghostly sonority not often heard in modern jazz guitar,” Peplin added.

Rosenwinkel says his music is about “the relationship that we each have with the universe at large and how we use our intuition to hear what it is telling us.”

His most recent album, 2012’s “Star of Jupiter,” which he says came to him in a dream, underscores that concept, transporting “listeners on a journey toward discovery, truth and ultimately peace.”

It features his New Quartet band — pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner — a fiery group of rising stars and veterans-in-the-making.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Mnozil Brass, Children of the Light Trio highlight Lawrence’s 2016-17 Performing Arts Series

World-renowned Mnozil Brass and the impeccable Children of the Light Trio headline a diversely talented array of artists Lawrence University’s 2016-17 Performing Arts Series.

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Mnozil Brass performs March 29, 2017.

Subscriptions for both the Artist and Jazz series are on sale now. Subscribers may choose from either series or a “Favorite 4” package, with discounts available to senior citizens and students. Single-concert tickets go on sale Sept. 16. For more information, contact the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749 or boxoffice@lawrence.edu.

All concerts are held in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Mnozil Brass visits Lawrence March 29, 2017. Since it’s founding in 1992, the Austrian brass septet has established itself as one of the world’s premiere brass ensembles, captivating audiences with its blend of virtuosity and theatrical wit. With more than 130 performances a year, they have sold out concert halls around the world.

“I know this is an incredibly overused phrase, but the Mnozil Brass concert is an absolute ‘must-see’ event,” said Marty Erickson, an instructor of tuba and euphonium in the Lawrence conservatory. “They play everything from Bach to Zappa, from the classics to new movie music and it is all surrounded with choreographed theater and dance moves and a massive dose of humor.

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Children of the Light — Brian Blade, Danilo Perez and John Patitucci — will be the second concert of the Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend Nov. 5.

“Not only are they considered the finest brass ensemble of its kind in the world, they do it all seemingly effortlessly with great fun,” Erickson added. “Imagine hearing Debussy and then Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” or an opera excerpt followed by Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” While most of the members have classical-based backgrounds, they also are versatile in jazz, pop and more. They are a hoot!”

The members first met at the Vienna Conservatory as young brass musicians. In the ensuring years, they have embraced repertoire from classical and folk to jazz and pop, all executed with the same fearlessness and immense technical skill.

Not only are they considered the finest brass ensemble of its kind in the world, they do it all seemingly effortlessly with great fun.”
— Marty Erickson on Mnozil Brass

Children of the Light, featuring three members of the Wayne Shorter Quartet, performs Nov. 5 as part of the Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend.

The three multiple Grammy Award winners — keyboardist Danilo Perez, cellist John Patitucci and percussionist Brian Blade — celebrate Shorter’s old and new compositions. Their three-way conversations produce a collective improvisation, unfolding and constructing music like a rhythmic and smoldering chamber recital. As they apply their considerable individual talents to the trio, each member maintains his own distinct personality.

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Clarinetest David Shifrin, violinist Ani Kavafian and pianist Andre-Michel Schub open the Artist Series Oct. 7.

“When these three virtuosos come together, they bring layers of intricate melodies, rhythm and textures, which is explosive,” said José Encarnación, director of Lawrence’s jazz studies program. “Just as light naturally stimulates sights and makes things visible, so does this trio. They bring enlightenment and illumination to all their audiences.”

While Children of the Light is partially defined by the absence of Shorter, they add new influences, particularly of Latin and jazz, that are uniquely their own.

The Kavafian–Schub–Shifrin Trio opens the Artist Series Oct. 7. Friends for 25 years, violinist Ani Kavafian, pianist Andre-Michel Schub and clarinetist David Shifrin form a trio with palpable chemistry. Each is a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Kavafian is one of the most sought after chamber musicians in the country as well as a frequent soloist. Shifrin has appeared in critically acclaimed recitals across the country and is a frequent major orchestra soloist. As a piano recitalist, orchestra soloist and chamber musician, Schub has earned critic and audience acclaim since launching his career more than 30 years ago.

The trio’s programs include themes of dance, folk and French connections, highlighting a diverse range of 19th- and 20th-century works.

“Just as light naturally stimulates sights and makes things visible, so does this trio. They bring enlightenment and illumination to all their audiences.”
— José Encarnación on Children of Light Trio

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The internationally acclaimed Elias String Quartet graces the Lawrence Memorial Chapel stage Feb. 3.

The Elias String Quartet, internationally acclaimed as one of the leading ensembles of its generation, performs Feb. 3, 2017. Known for its intense and vibrant performances, the quartet has traveled the globe collaborating with some of the finest musicians and playing in the world’s great venues.

In 2015, the quartet completed their ground-breaking Beethoven Project, performing and recording the complete string quartets of Beethoven. The project was broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and performed in 11 major venues in the UK.

The quartet has been recognized with the 2010 BBC Music Magazine’s Newcomer of the Year Award and a 2013 Mentoring Scholarship from the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn.

Closing out the Artist Series, Roomful of Teeth makes a return visit April 7, 2017. The ensemble performed at Lawrence in 2014 as part of the college’s New Music Series.

Classically trained vocalists, RoT performs an eclectic repertoire commissioned specifically for the group, branching into everything from Tuvan throat singing, yodeling, Korean P’ansori and Hindustani music.

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The eclectic Roomful of Teeth makes its second appearance at Lawrence on April 7.

The New York Times has described their distinct style as “voices and percussion meshed to a colorful effect, the story propelled by a high-energy blend of stylistic influences including reggae, hip hop and rock.”

In March 2015, RoT performed the world premiere of “Drone Mass” by Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson, whose score for the film “The Theory of Everything” was nominated for an Academy Award.

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Singer Luciana Souza, with her bandmates Romero Lubambo and Cyro Baptista, open 2016’s Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend Nov. 4.

The Luciana Souza Trio opens the Jazz Series Nov. 4, kicking of the Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration weekend.

Grammy Award-winner Luciana Souza is one of jazz’s leading singers and interpreters. A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Souza’s work transcends traditional boundaries with a musical style rooted in jazz, winding through world music and incorporating an enlightened approach to new music.

Souza has been releasing acclaimed recordings since 2002, including six discs that earned Grammy nomination. She has performed and recorded with such high-profile artists as Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon, James Taylor and Bobby McFerrin as well as the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Joining Souza will be Brazilian jazz guitarist Romero Lubambo and Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista.

Gerald Clayton, one of the foremost pianists of his generation, performs Feb. 24, 2017. Schooled in hard-swinging, melodic jazz by his father, John Clayton, uncle Jeff Clayton and mentors Billy Childs and Kenny Barron, he also has collaborated with contemporary jazz innovators Ambrose Akinmusire and Kendrick Scott. In his long-standing trio with drummer Justin Brown and bassist Joe Sanders, Clayton blends those styles into a musical language all his own.

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Pianist Gerald Clayton, along with bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown, performs Feb. 24.

A 2006 runner-up in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Piano Competition, Clayton garnered Grammy nominations in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Delfeayo Marsalis, one of the top trombonists, composers and producers in jazz today, comes to campus May 13, 2017. In January 2011, Delfeayo and the Marsalis family — father Ellis and brothers Branford, Wynton and Jason — received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award, the nation’s highest jazz honor.

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Trombonist extraordinaire closes the Jazz Series May 13, 2017.

Marsalis has toured internationally with Art Blakey, Slide Hampton and Max Roach as well as leading his own groups. In 2005 Marsalis released “Minions Dominion,” a tribute to legendary jazz drummer Elvin Jones followed by a reorchestrated verson of the classic Ellington suite “Sweet Thunder.”

Marsalis’ most recent album, “The Last Southern Gentlemen,” displays his technical expertise and frequent touches of humor, such as his playful rendition of “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

“World of Warcraft,” “South Park” soundtrack contributors visit campus for special events

Accomplished multimedia composer Jeff Kurtenacker makes a return visit to his alma mater and he’s bringing Grammy Award-nominated trumpet player Wayne Bergeron along. The two Los Angeles-based musicians will lend their respective talents to the Lawrence University community for a series of special events April 12-13, culminating with a big band concert.

A 1999 Lawrence graduate and Green Bay native, Kurtenacker has made his mark in the video game industry. After graduating from Lawrence with a self-designed major in composition, Kurtenacker landed a job with Hans Zimmer at his company, Media Ventures/Remote Control, where he honed his craft of composing for media.Jeff-Kurtenacker_newsblog

After serving as choral arranger on “Warcraft 3” for Blizzard Entertainment, Kurtenacker worked on numerous other video game titles, among them “World of Warcraft,” “Pirates of the Burning Sea,” Dreamworks’ “Igor,”  and “American Idol.”

Kurtenacker joined Carbine Studios in 2008 as a sound designer and three years later moved into the role of lead composer. In addition to that role, he also serves as Carbine’s audio department manager. He composed, orchestrated and conducted a 75-piece orchestra in recording more than nine hours of music for Carbine’s “Wild Star.”

Bergeron has established himself as one of the most sought-after musicians in the world for studio sessions, film soundtracks, international touring, jazz concerts and clinics. He is especially in demand for film and television scores, having contributed to more than 350 TV and motion picture soundtracks. His many credits include “Frozen,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Monsters University,” “Despicable Me” “Marley & Me,” “The Simpson’s Movie,” “Dreamgirls,” “Mission Impossible 3” and “South Park.”

Wayne-Bergeron_newsblog_2After working behind the scenes for many years, Bergeron released his first solo effort, “You Call This a Living?,” which earned rave reviews as well as a Grammy Award nomination in 2004. His second disc, “Plays Well With Others” released in 2007, drew similar praise. His latest project is scheduled to be released later this year.

During their residency at Lawrence, Kurtenacker and Bergeron will participate in the following events, all of which are free and open to the public.

• Tuesday, April 12, 11:10 a.m. Bergeron and Kurtenacker will lead masterclasses in trumpet and composing, respectively, in Shattuck Hall 163 and Shattuck Hall 4.

• Tuesday, April 12, 7 p.m., Shattuck Hall 163. The pair will conduct a live recording session with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra sight reading one of Kurtenacker’s orchestral soundtracks. The session will be recorded just as his music is at Warner Bros. in Los Angeles. Bergeron will play with the LSO for the recording.

• Tuesday, April 12, 8 p.m., Shattuck Hall 163. Bergeron and Kurenacker lead a discussion on “the business of music,” providing an insider’s look at the world of composing and performing for film, television and multimedia.

• Wednesday, April 13, 8 p.m., Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Bergeron headlines a concert with the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and the new 19-member Lawrence Jazz Faculty Big Band. The program will feature jazz standards such as Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the A Train” as well as several selections Bergeron has personally selected from his library.

“We are so fortunate to get this opportunity to perform with Wayne Bergeron, who is really  one of the world’s most in-demand musicians,” said Patricia Darling, lecturer in music and director of the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble. “We’ll be playing some great big band charts. This is going to be a very exciting and rewarding concert for everyone.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence Jazz Series welcomes the Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet

Incorporating modern classical, vanguard pop and spoken word, composer and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire brings his unique brand of modern jazz to Lawrence University’s Jazz Series.

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Trumpet player Ambrose Akimusire

The Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet performs Friday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. in Lawrence’s Memorial Chapel. Tickets, at $30/$25 for adults, $25/$20 for seniors and $20/$18 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Joining Akinmusire on stage will be pianist Sam Harris, bass player Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown.

Winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2007, Akinmusire, 33, released his first album, “Prelude to Cora,” the following year. His second album, “The Heart Emerges Glistening,” released in 2011 on Blue Note Records, drew rave reviews. After being named Downbeat magazine’s Rising Star Jazz Artist of the Year in 2011 and Trumpet Player of the Year in 2012, Akinmusire moved to the forefront of progressive jazzmen, becoming one of the most buzzed-about artists of his generation.

“The first time I heard Ambrose, I was completely captivated, enchanted by his warm, huge, beautiful trumpet sound,” said Jose Encarnacion, director of Lawrence’s jazz studies program. “He speaks from the heart. His musical stories will take you places you have never imagined. This will be a musical experience not to be missed.”

His most recent album, 2014’s “The Imagined Savior Is Easier to Paint,” was compared to Mark Rothko paintings by NPR music critic Ann Powers, who described it as “large, filling every corner of the frame, yet calm, spacious, their colors connected in subtle gradations.”

On “The Imagined Savior,” Akinmusire flexed his composition talents, drawing inspiration from a local homeless man in his neighborhood, a 16 year-old imprisoned young woman and police brutality. He collaborated with numerous vocalists on the album, giving each an outline of the music and allowing them to create their own lyrics.

“He speaks from the heart. His musical stories will take you places you have never imagined.”
— Jose Encarnacion, director of LU’s jazz studies program

In the track “Rollcall for Those Absent,” a young girl reads the names of numerous African-American men and women killed by police.

Having a young voice read the names, according to Akinmusire, was “like the beginning of life talking about the end of life. I wanted to capture that.”

A native of Oakland, Calif., Akinmusire began playing the trumpet professionally while still in high school, touring Europe with the Five Elements band.  He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Along the way, he studied with trumpet luminaries Terence Blanchard, the late Lew Soloff and the late master teacher Laurie Frink.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

35 and counting: Annual jazz festival welcomes guest artists Cyrille Aimée and Rufus Reid

The name has changed — slightly— but the mission remains the same.

Lawrence University’s annual salute to all things jazz celebrates its 35th year with a new name— Fred Sturm Jazz Celebration Weekend —  in honor of its founder and mentor who passed away in 2014.

This year’s weekend celebration welcomes vocalist Cyrille Aimée Friday, Nov. 6 and bass legend Rufus Reid, Saturday, Nov. 7. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Tickets, ranging from $18 to $30, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Cyrille-Aimee_newsblogIn addition to the two evening concerts, Lawrence will host more than 350 students from 23 high schools on Saturday, Nov. 7 who will participate a series of educational clinics and performances. The schedule includes free performances by the Lawrence jazz faculty and the Lawrence Jazz Band.

French-born Aimée has established herself as one of the most promising jazz singers of her generation. Raised in the village of Samois sur Seine, Aimée’s culturally rich background — her mother is Dominican, her father French — has provided her with a distinctive vocal combination: the driving force of Dominican rhythm and the incredible swing of the French Gypsies.

Accomplished jazz singer Janet Planet, who teaches vocal technique and jazz history at Lawrence, says Aimée clearly “enjoys making music” and describes her style as “infectious.”

“She is the ‘hot ticket’ in the world of jazz today and brings her youth and obvious hunger for the music to her performances,” said Planet. “She also shows a respect for singers that have come before her, such as Ella Fitzgerald.

“Cyrille brings her joy to stage as she unveils each moment of each song.  She emotes a certain fearlessness, a requisite characteristic for improvisation,” Planet added. “Along with the ability to improvise in the scat format, she utilizes technology by incorporating looping devices in her concerts, stacking her vocals as she builds live tracks.”

“She is the ‘hot ticket’ in the world of jazz today and brings her youth and obvious hunger for the music to her performances.”
— Janet Planet

Inspired by the musical legacy of renowned guitarist Django Reinhardt, Aimée is a past winner of both the Montreux Jazz Festival’s Vocal Competition and the Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition. Her 2014 major label debut, “It’s a Good Day,” showcases Aimée’s incredible range of musical styles, eras, continents and moods.

Reid, a Grammy Award-nominated bass player whose career spans five decades, and his quartet, will be joined on stage by the Lawrence Jazz Ensemble during the direction of Patty Darling.  Nearly the entire program will feature works composed or arranged by Reid.Rufus Reid_newsblog

As a leader or co-leader, Reid has recorded more than 20 albums, including 2014’s “Quiet Pride – The Elizabeth Catlett Project,” which was inspired by the legendary sculptor and civil rights activist.

“We are so fortunate to have Rufus Reid and his Quartet joining us for the Saturday evening concert,” said Darling. “Not only is Rufus one of today’s premiere bassists, he is also one of the world’s leaders in jazz education and jazz history, as well as an inspiring clinician and accomplished composer.  His passion for performance and jazz education make him the perfect choice as one of this year’s guest artists for our 35th festival.”

Reid is the author of “The Evolving Bassist,” the definitive bible for every jazz bassist and the industry standard since 1974. He has lent his signature sound to the music of a litany of jazz icons, including Thad Jones, Stan Getz, Benny Golson and Nancy Wilson, among others.

Sturm created jazz celebration weekend in 1981 as a way to bring renowned professional jazz artists to the Lawrence campus and the roster of guests reads like a Who’s Who of jazz greats: Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Slide Hampton, Bobby McFerrin, Diana Krall, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea and others.

Beyond the concerts, Sturm established a completely non-competitive jazz educational festival featuring renowned clinicians for students as a way to provide an inspirational jump-start for school jazz groups and promote improvisation as a primary focus in school jazz ensembles.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Pianist Robert Glasper brings his brand of acoustic jazz roots to Lawrence Memorial Chapel

Versatile pianist and composer Robert Glasper and his band, the Robert Glasper Trio, showcases his forthcoming album “Covered” Friday, May 1 at 8 p.m. in the final concert of the 2014-15 Lawrence University Jazz Series.

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Robert Glasper previews his forthcoming album “Covered” May 1 in the final 2014-15 Jazz Series concert.

Tickets for the Lawrence Memorial Chapel concert, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors and $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

In “Covered,” Glasper returns to his acoustic jazz roots while continuing to explore the hip-hop and R&B sound that earned him two Grammy Awards for his albums “Black Radio” and “Black Radio 2.

The album, which is scheduled for official release June 16, was recorded live in front of an intimate gathering of invited guests in Capitol Records’ historic Studio A. The first single from the album, “Reckoner,” a cover of the Radiohead song, was made available to all streaming services and digital retailers on April 22.

“Robert Glasper is unmistakable for his gospel-infused sound,” said Lawrence associate professor of music Mark Urness, bassist with the Lawrence Faculty Jazz Quartet. “He has amazingly collaborated with the top artists in jazz and R&B and is one of the busiest pianists and composers today.

“His two Grammy Awards are testament to the universal appeal of his lyrical, soulful style,” Urness added. “Whether it is complex original jazz compositions, or covers of Radiohead, the Glasper Trio always delivers lyrical melodies, compelling harmonies and a joyous groove.”

The New York Times locates Glasper’s signature eclectic, referential style at the “junction of coolheaded logic and digressive caprice.” The new album features songs by hip-hop and R&B stars like Kendrick Lamar, Musiq Soulchild, John Legend and Bilal alongside jazz standards like “Stella by Starlight” and works by Radiohead and Joni Mitchell.

Joining Glasper onstage will be bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Damion Reid, with whom Glasper recorded his first two Blue Notes releases, “Canvas” (2005) and “In My Element” (2007). He cites Archer and Reid as two of his favorite musicians and the perfect collaborators for an album blending old and new sounds. NPR lauded the trio as “a shape-shifting, communicative unit” able to showcase Glasper’s “supple, flowing lines…sostenuto melodies…moody harmonies.”

In addition to working on “Covered,” Glasper composed and recorded the score for “Miles Ahead,” Don Cheadle’s upcoming film about Miles Davis. He also has been combing through Davis’ Columbia Records vaults and will create a remix album based on the legendary trumpeter’s recordings, rehearsals and outtakes.

He was recently named a Steinway Artist, joining the roster of world-class musicians who perform exclusively on Steinway pianos.

Glasper’s concert is a rescheduled appearance from an originally schedule performance for January 30 that had to be cancelled due to a film project conflict.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Lawrence Jazz Series welcomes pianist, composer Jon Cowherd for April 17 concert

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Jon Cowherd and his band — percussionist Brian Blade, guitarist Steve Cardenas and bassist Tony Scherr — perform in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel Friday, 17.

Pianist, composer, arranger and producer Jon Cowherd and his band The Mercy Project showcase music from his album “Mercy” in a Lawrence University Jazz Series concert Friday, April 17 at 8 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets, at $25-30 for adults, $20-25 for seniors and $18-20 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Released in 2013, “Mercy” is Cowherd’s first album released under his own name. Completely fan-funded, “Mercy” showcases Cowherd’s distinctive compositional style.

“Jon Cowherd is one of the most expressive and sensible jazz piano artist I have ever heard,” said Jose Encarnacion, instructor of jazz studies at Lawrence. “His beautiful melodies, profound harmonies and lyricism will easily connect you with his musical stories. I love his Mercy Project and am looking forward for his next musical production. This should be a concert that the Lawrence community can’t miss.”

Cowherd is best known for his participation in the Fellowship Band, which he co-founded with celebrated percussionist Brian Blade. The two met as students at Loyola University in New Orleans, where Cowherd studied French horn with jazz great Ellis Marsalis. Since its inception in 1998, the Fellowship Band has toured widely and garnered critical acclaim for its stylistic synergy of jazz, blues, gospel and folk.

A much sought-after collaborator, Cowherd has worked with such notable artists as Cassandra Wilson, Lizz Wright, Kellylee Evans, Roseanne Cash and Iggy Pop, all of whom he cites as influences on “Mercy.”

Joining Cowherd on stage will be Blade, guitarist Steve Cardenas and bassist Tony Scherr.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Maestro Fred Sturm: Lawrence Mourns the Death of its Long-Time Jazz Director

Lawrence University Kimberly-Clark Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies and Improvisational Music Fred Sturm died peacefully at his home in De Pere Sunday, Aug. 24 following a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was 63.

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Fred Sturm ’73 not only helped launch the jazz studies program at Lawrence, he served as its director for 26 years.

An award-winning composer, nationally recognized jazz educator and beloved mentor to hundreds, if not thousands, of aspiring musicians, Sturm graduated from Lawrence in 1973. He returned to his alma mater four years later and spent 26 years as a member of the conservatory of music faculty spanning two different teaching stints (1977-91; 2002-14). In between, he taught at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where he was the chair of the jazz studies and contemporary media department.

Sturm, who wrote his first jazz arrangement as a senior at Oconomowoc High School in 1969, was instrumental in creating Lawrence’s jazz studies program in the early 1970s while still a student.  As a 19-year-old sophomore, Sturm formed the Lawrence conservatory of music’s first-ever jazz ensemble, which in turn became a catalyst for the creation of the jazz studies department.

During his 37-year teaching career, the student jazz ensembles Sturm directed were recognized with nine Downbeat awards, widely considered among the highest music honors in the field of jazz education.

Sturm himself was recognized by Downbeat magazine with its 2010 Jazz Education Achievement Award as part of its annual Student Music Awards. The award honors jazz educators who have made significant contributions toward the development of future jazz artists and positively impacted their school’s jazz programs through their commitment to jazz education. Downbeat editor Ed Enright hailed Sturm as “the perfect example of a teacher who goes the extra mile” for his students and ensembles. “Fred’s influence can be seen and heard throughout the jazz education community.”

“Fred was a consummate artist, master educator, visionary, mentor, life-changer, jester, compassionate friend. He positively impacted the lives of all who knew him.”
                   — Brian Pertl ’86, dean of the Lawrence conservatory of music

Renowned for his enthusiastic, generous spirit, infectious passion for all things music and great sense of humor, Sturm devoted his life to helping music students hone their skills, traveling far and near to lead clinics or serve as composer-in-residence for school and university music programs. He also was a founding member of the jazz nonet Matrix.

Sturm was the driving force behind the creation of Jazz Weekend in 1980, a two-day celebration each November that brought professional jazz artists and leading jazz educators to the Lawrence campus for a 100 percent non-competitive jazz education festival. Sturm designed the program to serve as an inspirational jump-start for hundreds of high school students and jazz groups, promoting improvisation as a primary focus. During its 33-year history, the festival brought many of jazz’s biggest names to campus, including Bobby McFerrin, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Diane Schuur, Wayne Shorter, Diana Krall, Branford Marsalis and Kurt Elling, among others.

“Fred was a consummate artist, master educator, visionary, mentor, life-changer, jester, compassionate friend,” said Brian Pertl, dean of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music and a 1986 Lawrence graduate. “He positively impacted the lives of all who knew him. I am who I am because of him. I do what I do because of him. His influences on me are too numerous to count and too deep to fathom. He saw potential where others saw nothing. He steadfastly held to that vision even as I doubted. Over a 30-year arc, he never let me give up on what he knew I could be. My story is just one of thousands.”

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Jazz ensembles conducted by Fred Sturm won nine Downbeat awards for outstanding performance during his 37-year teaching career at Lawrence and Eastman School of Music.

Sturm’s long list of honors and awards include a 1997 Grammy Award nomination, the 2003 ASCAP/IAJE Commission In Honor of Quincy Jones, a prize granted annually to one established jazz composer of international prominence and Lawrence’s own Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005. Additionally, he was the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Howard Hanson Institute for American Music, among others.

During his career, he served as guest conductor/composer/arranger for professional jazz ensembles and radio orchestras in Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland and Norway.

Among his many ambitious projects was the 2010 Radiohead Jazz Project, which featured special arrangements of select Radiohead songs. Sturm coordinated the writers, developed project funding and produced the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble studio recordings with engineer Larry Darling. The internationally renowned HR Big Band of Frankfurt performed the Radiohead Project in 2011 in Germany and numerous American universities and high schools have subsequently showcased the RJP repertoire in concert.

Another project of which he was especially fond was “Migrations: One World, Many Musics,” a concert suite inspired by indigenous music from 21 countries. It was premiered by vocalist Bobby McFerrin and the NDR Big Band in Germany in 2007 and toured Europe the following summer.

A native of suburban Chicago, Sturm’s love of baseball, especially the Cubs, was second only to his love of music. Both were intrinsically intertwined throughout his life. Of all of his musical endeavors, none was closer to his heart than the Baseball Music Project, a tour de force that was part symphony concert, part musical American history lesson and part traveling exhibition. The project was inspired in large part by a baseball-themed composition he wrote in 1994 entitled “A Place Where it Would Always Be Spring.” An updated version of that work — “Forever Spring” — served as the centerpiece of the touring Baseball Music Project, which has been performed regularly since 2005 by American orchestras around the country under the auspices of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

(To read more about Fred’s involvement with the Baseball Music Project, download a copy of the summer issue of Lawrence magazine and go to page 24, “Putting the Bat in Baton.”)

After earning a bachelor of music degree in music education from Lawrence, Sturm studied at North Texas State University and the Eastman School of Music.

He is survived by his wife, Susan, De Pere, and two children, Ike, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., and Madeline, New York, N.Y.

A private memorial service will be held this week at Bjorklunden. A memorial celebrating Sturm’s life will be held at Lawrence on a date to be determined.

Feel free to share your favorite memories of Fred.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.